By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
The classical composer responsible for one piece on violinist Rachel Barton Pine's upcoming Amarillo program actually had a pivotal role in the life of her instrument, as well.
Pine's violin, known as the “ex-Bazzini ex-Soldat,” was made in 1742 by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu (literally, "of Jesus") was once owned by Marie Soldat, a member of Johannes Sebastian Brahms' inner circle of friends. In 1897, he hand-selected the violin for her and arranged for a wealthy Viennese businessman to purchase it and loan it to her. After her death in 1955, the violin was purchased by a collector and was placed in storage until an anonymous donor gave it to Pine on a lifetime loan in 2002.
"Knowing that the voice of this violin is one that was chosen by Brahms, that's just pretty cool," Pine said.
She'll perform Brahms' Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major as part of her concert program for Friends of Aeolian-Skinner, Opus 1024. The performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1601 S. Georgia St. Tickets are $30 or $10 for students.
"Ultimately, in day-to-day life, it's just an extraordinary instrument," Pine said. "Regardless of its prestige and its history, the question is, how does it sound? What's amazing about an instrument like this is not only can it produce anything you can possible imagine, but in fact, you stumble across colors that inspire you to try things you otherwise wouldn't have."
Contemporary instruments "can be just as beautiful as antiques," she said, "but the fact is, there are fewer colors (in the sound). It's like coloring with a Crayola box of 24 crayons instead of using the entire Pantone library."
That's because of the way the wood in the instrument ages over the decades.
"People say that there is more good violin-making going on in the world now than at any point in history, and that may very well be true, but we won't know how those instruments ended up until 100 years from now, and we won't be around to find out the answer," she said.
Soldat's friendship with Brahms helped inspire Pine's entire program for Sunday's concert.
"The concept behind the repertoire selections is 'musical friends'," she said.
In addition to the Brahms concerto and his Hungarian Dance No. 17, Pine will perform Amanda Maier's Sonata in B Minor, Dmitri Shostakovich's Violin Sonata in G Major and Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Moldavian Rhapsody.
Maier was a friend and contemporary of Brahms, who was "very, very enthusiastic about her writing," Pine said. Shostakovich and Weinberg were close collaborators, and Weinberg and Brahms both explored the music of the gypsies and Hungarians (transcribed for Brahms, in fact, by Joseph Joachim who, to tie everything together, introduced Brahms to Soldat).
For more on Pine, who emerged from a life of poverty to become a star violinist, check out this report from PBS News Hour: